A lot of restaurants nowadays are pursuing the “farm to table” model, in which the farmers that grow the vegetables and fruits and raise/slaughter the livestock are also restaurant owners (or at least have a direct relationship with restaurant owners). The specialty coffee industry is following suit as best they can with direct sourcing practices, in which roasters circumvent importers and buy directly from the farmer themselves.
Well, now there’s a new roaster who’s taking the “farm to table” model to its most literal and extreme interpretiation.
Directo Caffè, in Ahuachapán, El Salvador, is a true farm to table coffee business. They give people El Salvadoran coffees that their own family owns and empower local farmers by allowing them to have a larger role on the coffee value chain they put their hard work into.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Directo Single Origin, from Directo Caffe in Ahuachapán, El Salvador. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Ahuachapán, El Salvador
producer: Alvaro David Castro
elevation: 1200 meters above sea level
process: fully washed, patio dried
certifications: Rainforest Alliance
grind: 20, Preciso
coffee: 28 g
water: 460 mL
pour: 2:00 concentric pour
The aroma of this coffee is really roasty; it’s not smoky or potent with carbon or gas, though—looking at the beans, they’re not coated in oil or anything so I’m still hopeful.
Taking my first few sips of the cup immediately post-brew, I have to say that I’m really surprised by how overroasted the coffee tastes. It’s nothing at all like a Peet’s or a Starbucks, but roast and carbon are definitely the most dominant flavors of this coffee’s profile. Beneath those flavors, there are some hints of caramel and cocoa powder, but they’re just faint hints.
As the cup cools off, nothing changes much; except that the only two flavors the coffee had going for it, the caramel and cocoa, quickly fade all together. The coffee is watery and slick on the palate, and it leaves behind a long, lingering metal and oil aftertaste.
Medium body; slick, watery mouthfeel; berry acidity; dry finish.
I would have loved to tasted this coffee in the hands of a different roaster, because I don’t think the quality of the finished product fairly represents the quality of the raw materials.
However, as it is, Directo Caffe’s Single Origin is not a very good coffee and certainly not a pleasurable cupping experience. This is a coffee plagued by roast and one that tastes very generic—like grocery store coffee. Beneath the thick shroud of roast and smoke and carbon there is some good stuff happening; but it’s all totally masked and not enough to make up for the coffee’s obvious imperfections.
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Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.